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Hospitals stop free treatment on Sehat cards

Punjab caretaker govt halts funds for healthcare scheme. February 16, 2023


The free medical treatment of up to Rs1 million under the government’s health insurance card scheme, dubbed as the Sehat Sahulat Card, has been stopped in all the 15 approved hospitals of the Rawalpindi district.

Sources said the free treatment counters in these hospitals have also been removed and the patients, undergoing free kidney dialysis, heart operations and treatment of cancer and other types of chronic diseases on their health cards have been discharged from the hospitals without completing the procedures.

According to sources, the dialysis and surgeries of the patients have also been cancelled, sparking protests and appeals by their relatives to complete the ongoing medical procedures and treatments.

The sources claimed that all funds have been completely stopped by the Punjab caretaker government in respect of the health insurance card scheme.

According to the hospital sources, all types of free treatment, free medicines, operations, and dialysis were going on up to Rs1 million on the ID cards of the heads of the families in these hospitals.

During this period, a total of 40,000 patients from families living below the poverty line received free treatment whereas 12,000 patients were being treated and their operations and dialyses were in the pipeline, which has now all been stopped.

In this regard, Punjab Assembly’s former deputy speaker Wasiq Qayyum said: “This is a very cruel decision. A caretaker government has limited powers and no authority to terminate the health card. This programme was initiated by legislation in the Punjab Assembly.”

The former deputy speaker vowed to challenge the decision in the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court. “The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will restore the free health care system. If needed, we will also move the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” he said.

On the other hand, while talking to The Express Tribune, Irshad Ali, whose father was undergoing dialysis treatment, said: “On Monday we were refused free dialysis on the health card and asked for payment of the full amount.”

Another victim, Faisal Mahmood, said that his mother had been recommended cardiac surgery. “The operation was supposed to take place this week but we have been asked to arrange hundreds of thousands of rupees for the operation,” he lamented.

“This is a programme for the poor. For the sake of Almighty Allah, restore this good programme. With this card, people belonging to any political or religious group can get free-of-cost treatment. It is not for workers of a specific political party,” he said.

The Sehat Sahulat Card was a flagship project of the former prime minister Imran Khan-led PTI government. In April 2022, all public and private sector hospitals in the Rawalpindi division surreptitiously refused to treat patients entitled to the Sehat Card.

It was reported that the hospitals’ management was concerned about the reimbursement of expenses to be incurred under the health card if the PTI government was booted out of



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